Despite Legal Attacks, Conflict Minerals Ban Gets Stronger

Carey L. Biron

Former “blood diamonds” now provide employment in Sierra Leone. Credit: Tommy Trenchard/IPS
Former “blood diamonds” now provide employment in Sierra Leone. Credit: Tommy Trenchard/IPS

WASHINGTON, Jan 8 2014 (IPS) – Major manufacturing and business groups on Tuesday urged a court here to roll back a new U.S. regulation that would soon require major manufacturers to ensure that their global supply chains are free of minerals used to fund violence in the Great Lakes region of central Africa.

Yet the previous day, Intel, the major computer hardware manufacturer, announced the world’s first product formally dubbed free of such materials, stating that its microprocessors would no longer use “conflict minerals”. The announcement highlights trends that advocates of greater supply chain accountability say are already well underway, and which they suggest belie parts of the legal case against the rule. Continue reading Despite Legal Attacks, Conflict Minerals Ban Gets Stronger

Baba Jukwa vs. Mugabe: The Man on Facebook Standing Up to Zimbabwe’s President

Think Africa Press

On 31 July, the 89-year-old Zimbabwean president, Robert Mugabe, will seek another term in a rematch of the contentious 2008 election with challenger Morgan Tsvangirai.
On 31 July, the 89-year-old Zimbabwean president, Robert Mugabe, will seek another term in a rematch of the contentious 2008 election with challenger Morgan Tsvangirai.

A disaffected ZANU-PF insider leaking details of fraud and inside information from an anonymous Facebook page has become an online sensation. But will it change anything?

But now, 33 years after Mugabe first took office, the icon of the African independence era is being hounded by a creation of the Internet age.

In March, a self-proclaimed disaffected insider of the ruling ZANU-PF party created the Facebook page of “Baba Jukwa”. With the disarming profile picture of a cartoon old man, Baba Jukwa traffics in political napalm, spilling damaging details of high-level party meetings, allegations of voter fraud, and embarrassing gossip – all replete with private phone numbers for citizens to harass the officials in question. Continue reading Baba Jukwa vs. Mugabe: The Man on Facebook Standing Up to Zimbabwe’s President

The U.S. Government Uses Sweatshops, Too

In These Times

Though the Rana Plaza collapse prompted some private companies to reform their supply chains, the U.S. government has not done the same. (Sharat Chowdhury / Wikimedia Commons)
Though the Rana Plaza collapse prompted some private companies to reform their supply chains, the U.S. government has not done the same. (Sharat Chowdhury / Wikimedia Commons)

Michelle Chen
The collapse of the Rana Plaza factory complex in Bangladesh last April exposed the cruel link between abusive Global South factories and the Western brands they supply. But while consumers may have been shocked to learn of the Gap or Benetton’s latest designs strewn amid the wreckage of “death trap” factories, they might have missed another bit of debris: the label of the U.S. government. In fact, much of the clothing churned out by overseas sweatshops is custom-made for Uncle Sam.

In an extensive investigative report, New York Times details how the federal government’s contracts with overseas factories to make uniforms and other apparel are connected to egregious human rights violations, including child labor and union suppression. Continue reading The U.S. Government Uses Sweatshops, Too

Francis tells religious to ‘wake the world,’ outlines modern struggles for church

National Catholic Reporter
Joshua J. McElwee

Priests, brothers, and sisters in Catholic religious orders around the globe should “wake up the world” by being “real witnesses” to a counter-cultural way of life that relies on generosity and self-forgetfulness, Pope Francis told a meeting of superiors general of religious orders in November.

Those religious, the pope also added, should also not be afraid of making mistakes or even committing sins.

“You should be real witnesses of a world doing and acting differently,” the pope told some 120 leaders of male religious orders during a closed-door Nov. 29 meeting at the Vatican, according to a new account of the event released Friday by the Italian Jesuit magazine La Civilta Cattolica. Continue reading Francis tells religious to ‘wake the world,’ outlines modern struggles for church

Hospitality, Agriculture Firms Vulnerable to Human Trafficking

Carey L. Biron
WASHINGTON, Jan 3 2014 (IPS) – Shareholders are calling on 15 U.S.-based multinational corporations to ensure that their global supply chains are not facilitating human rights abuses, particularly labour and sex trafficking.

In a new campaign running throughout January, the Interfaith Centre on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), which represents 300 shareholder organisations managing around 100 billion dollars in assets, is focusing on two sectors in particular, hospitality and food agriculture. These industries – which include hotels, airlines, restaurant chains, large retailers and agribusiness companies – are seen as particularly at risk for rights violations. Continue reading Hospitality, Agriculture Firms Vulnerable to Human Trafficking

Pope’s New Year Angelus: build a world where enemies recognize themselves as brothers

Vatican Radio
peacePope Francis offered New Year’s greetings of peace Wednesday to the tens of thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square to recite with the Holy Father the Angelus prayer at the start of 2014.

The Pope said his wishes for the new year are “those of the Church:” Christian wishes that put Jesus Christ at the center of history and at its end: “the Kingdom of God, Kingdom of peace, justice, liberty in love.” And the Holy Spirit, the Holy Father said, is the force which propels us towards that end. Continue reading Pope’s New Year Angelus: build a world where enemies recognize themselves as brothers

Kinshasa: Heavy gunfire, hostage scenario wreaks panic among residents

Mail and Guardian

Residents in the capital of the DRC have been left to feel uneasy after gunfire erupted throughout the city and several reporters were taken hostage.

Shooting was heard near the Tshatshi military camp as well as the international airport at Ndjili, residents and a local journalist said. (AFP)
Shooting was heard near the Tshatshi military camp as well as the international airport at Ndjili, residents and a local journalist said. (AFP)

Heavy gunfire erupted in several areas of the Congolese capital Kinshasa on Monday, including the international airport and the military headquarters, causing panic among residents.

Police also said armed youths had taken hostage several reporters from the state television station RTNC in Kinshasa.

“There’s panic in the city, people are asking what is happening,” a local resident said, adding that he had seen police and military officers deploy around the RTNC building and the nearby Parliament of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Continue reading Kinshasa: Heavy gunfire, hostage scenario wreaks panic among residents